How to Find the Right Mentor at the Right Place at the Right Time
Do you need a mentor?
Let’s think and consider about mentorship in your life for a moment, only if you want to become more like Christ, live for Jesus Christ more purposefully, and see yourself and your church take strong ground in scriptural truth for God’s glory. Maybe you may have a right mentor in your life already! But let’s pulse for a reflection about mentorship here even if have one with you.
This is what the Scriptures says about why you need mentors: “For waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisors.” (Proverbs 24:6) We’re in a war as Christian soldiers, and we want victory, so we need advisors and guidance. Every pastor needs a mentor, just as every Christian need a mentor.
Why is finding a mentor a problem?
I’ve done some research on the state of mentoring and here are few observations that might make you rethink of a mentor with you:
- Everyone wants a mentor. Especially millennial.
- The long term, well connected, one generation up leader who speaks into your life and opens doors for you is a reality for a fortunate few. This is an unmet need for most Pastors and Church leaders today.
- Large scale mentorship programs get mixed reviews. Apparently it’s risky to legislate personal development.
- People are busy. The people you would want to mentor you have their hand full load plates on them.
So if every pastor needs a mentor and would personally benefit from having a mentor, but mentors are hard to find, what’s a pastor to do?
The Quick Start Guide to Finding a Mentor
This article is your tool to find the right mentor at the right place and at the right time. Read this article and you’ll be on your way to finding the right mentor for yourself.
Here are the key questions you are about to answer:
- What do I need to learn from a mentor?
- What do I want in my mentor?
- How do I get ready for a new mentoring relationship?
- Where do I find my mentor?
1. What is it that you need to learn from a mentor?
My definition of a mentor is someone who has been where you want to go and is willing to help you get there. Let me say it again:
“A mentor is someone who has been where you want to go and who is willing to help you get there.”
Begin, then, with a clarification of your vision, goals, and needs so you are clear on where you want to go.
Here’s an example:
- I want to grow in my relationship with Jesus. I want to love him more and reflect his character more.
- I want to grow as a pastor. I want to be a wiser, more capable leader. I want to be a better preacher.
- I want my church to grow. I want more people to follow Jesus and to be in community with other believers.
That’s a little generic, but you get the point. What do you want to learn? How do you want to grow?
What will a mentor do for you?
My first mentor helped me see the need for proper pastoral training and helped me gain admission into a Bible College to be trained. Another time my mentor helped me rediscovers my vision and dream and shows me what must be done to fulfill my vision and mission. Recently, my mentor has helped me process leadership challenges in my local church. These mentors have all become friends of mine. Would a mentor help you get clarity or find your next steps?
Iron Sharpens Iron
You can discover what you need a mentor for by asking yourself these three questions:
- What do I want my life to be like in ten years?
- What will it take to achieve that?
- What stands between me and that outcome?
Those three questions are a quick gap analysis, and they will show you the space between where you are and where you want to be. Looking at the gap will show you what you want to learn from your mentor.
2. What do you look for in a mentor?
That must be an important question because everybody has a list of what mentors should do and what they should be like. You must look for a mentor who you know cares for you, believes in you, and naturally encourages you.
“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” John C. Maxwell
Brad Johnson and Charles Ridley, in their synthesis of mentoring, The Elements of Mentoring, list warmth, active listening, regard, confidentiality, humor, trustworthiness, and respect for your values as some of the key traits of excellent mentors. Beyond all the right interpersonal skills, I want a mentor who has been a lead pastor, in a bigger church than mine, who has persevered in ministry, and who leads people to Jesus.
What character traits, skills, and experience are important in a mentor to you?
What kinds of mentors are there?
Mentoring comes in every flavor. Formal, Informal, Life-long, For a season Group and One-on-one. Near. Far. Paid. Free.
I think life brings a series of mentors. First of all your parents then teachers and coaches, then bosses. People come into your life for a season and you learn from them. Some people stay near, others move away. You have informal mentors who don’t know you – the people who you listen to or read. You may have been in a formal mentoring program. And loved it or were frustrated by it. Pray and identify what kind of mentoring God has for you and would like.
3. Are you ready to do the work that comes with mentoring?
Consider some of the initial questions to ask yourself to see if you’re serious about getting a mentor.
Assess your readiness with these questions:
- Do I have a sincere interest in learning?
- Am I willing to commit time to developing and maintaining a mentoring relationship?
- Am I willing to work on my own growth and development?
- Am I willing to be open and honest with myself and another person?
- Am I willing to listen to critical feedback?
- Can I participate without adversely affecting my other responsibilities?
- Am I committed to being an active mentoring partner?
- And many more …….
You don’t have to answer every question with a perfect yes, but you should be able to see if you have capacity to invest some time and work in a mentoring relationship.
Remember that Jesus is your first mentor.
Mentoring is learning that Jesus layers into our lives through others as we are open and teachable. He is your mentor in the truest sense of the word.
4. Where does a pastor find a mentor?
First of all to pray, then look, and take steps to contact. As pastors of local churches, we have mentors around us.
- The Christians leaders with national influence have risen because they have things to teach us.
- The same goes for the leaders in your denomination or association of churches. They are there to help you be a better leader and do better leadership in your local church. Be humble and learn from them.
- There are pastors in your church, your city, or your country who could mentor you.
- These days the internet has made it possible for us to be mentored either informally or formally, from afar or close up, by pastors and church leaders on just about every aspect of ministry.
What names come to mind of people who might be the right mentor for you right now?